I walked into a drugstore the other day to pick up some over the counter medication for a sore throat. Since it was the Christmas season I walked right past the lady standing next to the red kettle ringing her bell. The thought crossed my mind, “I would like to be a store front bell ringer . . . in Boca Raton.”
I’ve never been to Boca Raton. I’m not even sure if I could point it out on a map. I want to be a bell ringer there for one reason. It sounds warm. A fact that this particular lady could appreciate wrapped up in her coat, scarf, gloves and a blanket while casually glancing at the thermometer that read 17 degrees.
After paying for the medication that I desperately wanted I walked right passed her for the second time trying to scramble to my car before I froze. In the process I reached for my pocket and realized that I have a great problem. The problem I have is not disagreement with the red kettles, theological, philosophical or even organizational struggles with the non-for profit collecting in the red kettles. The problem I have is very simple. I don’t carry cash of any form. No bills, no coins, nothing. I don’t carry cash and I haven’t carried cash for probably six years or greater.
Once I got over the guilt of seeing her stand there, freezing and giving her nothing for her efforts I began to question not just my ability for spontaneous giving but for intentional giving. Not carrying cash or coin makes it challenging to give to someone who needs cash or coin but not being intentionally generous is a greater concern.
There really are after all two types of giving. Spontaneous, reactionary giving and intentional, calculated giving. It seems though that practicing intentional generosity actually costs more than dropping a few coins in the bucket. It costs more not just monetarily but it costs more spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Many times spontaneous giving is done out of a sense of guilt or the desire to have the one asking for money to move on and leave you alone. Once the transaction is done, you never really think about it again. But intentional giving costs.
Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:1-3 writes, “Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will” (NLT)
Despite troubles, despite poverty, despite looking at the account and seeing more month than money the churches in Macedonia gave. They intentionally gave. They purposely gave. They sacrificially gave.
Don’t hear what I’m not saying. Both spontaneous and intentional giving are good and both types should be practiced. Let me encourage you this Christmas Season don’t just nonchalantly drop off a few coins in the shiny red bucket, think through, pray through how can you intentionally be a blessing to someone today.